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CT Scans

There’s a new answer to the old riddle, “What’s black and white and “read” all over?” Not just the newspaper anymore.

Now there are CT scans. These are high-resolution black and white images of the body that reveal more about what’s going on inside than a simple x-ray.

The best news of all: Scans are being taken and read for patients at Mercy Health/Love County Hospital and Clinic.

The CT scanner, first installed in 2007, broadened the scope of the radiology department and brought high-demand services to Marietta.

The powerful CT scanner is the largest and most expensive piece of equipment ever purchased by the hospital. A modular structure had to be built to house it. An enclosed walkway connects the building to an existing wing of the hospital

The equipment is used mainly to look at internal injuries, such as a torn kidney, spleen, or liver; or bony injuries in the spine. The hospital’s radiology technologists also scan for tumors, aneurysms, and bleeding.

The CT scanner looks like a large doughnut set on end. During the scan, the patient lies on a bed that slides slowly back and forth beneath the opening of the scanner to allow the scanner to take internal pictures of the body. The test takes about five minutes.

CT scans are far more detailed than ordinary x-rays. Instead of sending out a single beam through the body, several beams are sent simultaneously at different angles. The computerized images present two-dimensional cross-sections detailed enough to reveal tumors, abscesses, tears, or swelling to the highly-trained radiology doctors who interpret them.

The machine does not touch the patient. No preparation is needed except for abdominal scans, for which the patient drinks an x-ray dye in advance or has the dye intravenously administered. This makes the intestines easier to see on the pictures.

CT scans are transmitted electronically to a radiologist in Ardmore for interpretation. Results are delivered within 24 hours. Emergency reads can be accomplished within 30 minutes for trauma patients in the emergency room.

Before CT scanners were invented in 1974, the types of information they provided often could have been discovered only by exploratory surgery.